Spring is just around the corner so if you are busy organizing your life, don’t forget to add health insurance for yourself and your loved ones to your to do list. [space]
The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) open enrollment deadline for coverage this year is March 31st —so you still have time to head on over to healthcare.gov and enroll if you haven’t already done so. If your state has it’s own marketplace, you will be redirected from healthcare.gov to your state’s marketplace website to begin your enrollment there. [space]
But, before you do, here are a few key FAQ’s that should make the process less overwhelming when you visit the site:[space]
What if I already have health insurance?
If you’re already insured and happy with your insurance, you don’t have to do anything different unless you want to do a price comparison. You might find that insurance plans in the insurance Marketplace are more affordable.[space]
What will it cover?
All of the insurance plans in the Marketplace will cover a core set of essential health benefits; however, premiums will vary based on the plan you choose.
Will the plan cover preventive services?
Yes, the plans will cover some preventive services that will include mammograms, vaccinations, blood pressure and diabetes screenings, and cervical cancer screening, just to name a few. In addition, birth control, well women visits, lactation counseling and supplies will also be in the preventive services and many of them will be covered at no additional charge.[space]
Can I keep my same doctor and clinic?
It depends on the plan that you choose. Each insurance plan will have its own network of doctors and your current doctor may or may not be a “participating provider” or “in network provider” within the respective plans.[space]
Keep in mind that some plans require a doctor to be a network provider; while another plan may allow you to use an out of network doctor— at a higher out of pocket expense to you, of course.
Just compare the Marketplace insurance plans to find out which one works best for you.[space]
How much will the insurance cost and what do I have to pay?
There is generally a monthly premium for your health insurance unless your income is low enough to qualify for financial help. The only way to find out your exact out of pocket premium expense or to determine if you qualify for financial help is to visit www.healthcare.gov and complete the application or call 1-800-318-2596 to find out more.
Please note that many middle class families qualify for financial assistance, which is determined by your income and family size.[space]
What if I don’t sign up for health insurance by the deadline?
If you currently have insurance, you’re okay; however, if you don’t have insurance coverage for 2014, you might have to pay a fine of $95.00 for the first year. That fee will increase over the next few years.[space]
Note: The only people not required to have health insurance are Native Americans and certain religious communities, like the Amish. However, if you simply cannot afford health insurance, you can ask for a “hardship exemption.” Check with www.healthcare.gov to see if you qualify for an exemption. But remember, most people will be required to have insurance.